Long Island’s commercial beer brewers all know one another, and they all live by an unwritten code. One, there are no secrets in brewing. Two, don’t sacrifice quality. And three — and this is the most important rule — when you’re out selling your product, never knock a local competitor’s tap from a bar’s draft line.
“My partner went into a bar and they liked our beer,” recalled Greg Martin of Long Ireland Beer Company. “My partner said, ‘What beer would we be replacing?’ The guy said Blue Point Winter Ale. So my partner says, ‘How about the Bass Ale?’ “
According to Mr. Martin, the bar owner sent them packing; he didn’t like being told how to run his business.
“But Blue Point is still a small company like us,” Mr. Martin explained. “We don’t want to hurt these guys. We’ll never go back and ask for a local competitor’s line; we just won’t. Most of the guys have that respect.”
In other words, if the local brewers are going to compete against big national and international brands, they have to stick together. And if one starts cutting corners in the brewing process or steeply undercuts his neighbors to try to make a splash at the bars and restaurants, they’ll all end up losers.
It’s clear the craft beer industry is coming to a frothy head here. The beers of Long Ireland, Greenport Harbor Brewing and Blue Point Brewery can now be found in bars, restaurants and beer retailers across Suffolk, Nassau and New York City, with Blue Point, founded 13 years ago and the oldest local brand, now competing with national brands.
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